The Welcome Rock Trail

It's no secret that New Zealand has become a popular destination for vacation visitors. This means that one of the most loved aspects of a New Zealand vacation, the isolation and tranquility of some tourist attractions can no longer be guaranteed. The good news is that the true New Zealand specialist can still guide you to amazing places that the social media "followers" have not yet discovered.

The Welcome Rock Trail is one such example. 

It's just an hour from New Zealand's adventure capital of Queenstown, in one of the most remote and stunning places in New Zealand. We've actually written about this region in two of our recent blogs; it's where parts of the recently released Mission Impossible movie was filmed and where the new Nevis Catapult was recently launched.

In this case, you'll be exploring a 17-mile private mountain biking and hiking trail on a high country station. An experience for people who really enjoy getting 'off the beaten track'.

There are some very nice options for you to consider when you visit, including getting yourself to the start point and finding your own way round the trail, a one-day guided tour starting in Queenstown or the experience that enjoys the greatest feedback, an overnight guided hiking excursion.


Stay overnight in one of the cosy & inviting huts or tents situated along the trail.


Nothing too challenging in the uphill trails.


And nothing challenging at all on the downhills :)


Yes, this hut comes with an outdoor bath! It doesn't come much better than that.


Location Map, Welcome Rock Trail

Here are some FAQ's that will help you understand more about the Welcome Rock Trail experience.

Q: Is there cellular phone coverage?

A: There is only cellular phone coverage along the trail and on the western side of the Slate Range. Outside these areas there is limited or no telecommunication service. Therefore we recommend you turn your phone off to preserve battery power until such time as you need to use your phone.  We recommend visitors to use the smartphone app 'Get Home Safe' as a way of leaving intentions with your friends or family, or hire a personal locator beacon from us

Q: Are there bathroom facilities along the trail?

A: There are currently three bathroom facility structures. There is a basic facility at the Department of Conservation Historic Southland Ski hut at the start of the trail on the Nevis Road. The remaining basic bathrooms are located near the huts along the trail. 

Q: Do you have bikes, can I bring my own?

A: Bring your own bike or hire bikes from Outside Sport in Queenstown. 

Q: Is there drinking water along the trail?

A: There is creek fed water along the trail at the Mud Hut and the start of the trail at the Department of Conservation Historic Southland Ski Club on the Nevis Road. Along the way there are several creeks that run throughout summer these are located on the trail map. All running creek water is safe to drink.

Q: Can I camp along Welcome Rock Trails?

A: Freedom camping is not available however. 

Q: Do I have to pay to use the trails?

A: Yes. Payment must be made prior to using the trail. 

Q: Are the trails patrolled?

A: Yes. The trails are patrolled and monitored on a daily basis.

Q: What time do the trails open and what time do I have to be off the trail?

A: Our opening hours are 8am – 6pm. All riders and walkers must leave the property by 6pm unless overnighting.

Q: How long does it take to walk or ride the trail?

A: This depends on a range of factors such as visitor fitness, weather and arrival time. The entire loop including the 4-mile Nevis Road section is 17-miles. Most people who hike the loop without staying at a hut take eight hours from the trail head. 

If you are riding most people take five hours for the loop and if riding back down the Nevis Road allow an additional 30 minutes.  We especially recommend hikers stay overnight in one of our huts or campsites.

Q: What way around the loop should I go?

A: For safety reasons the Roaring Lion Trail is one way for mountain bikers. Starting at the Historic Ski Hut located on the Nevis Road. The Trail is to be ridden in an anti-clockwise direction only. Hikers can walk either way but must also start at the Ski Hut.

Q: How hard is the hiking or biking?

A: The trail for biking is considered an Intermediate Grade 3 trail, which means that it is either flat or up to five degrees gradient, avoidable obstacles and rough under your tyres – it is a mountain bike track. While the trail is relatively flat, there are durations on the uphill section to Welcome Rock or the Nevis Road that will require using low gears, rest spots for most people to have a drink, take a photo and enjoy the high country. For day walkers the trail is relatively long and will require a full day of walking. We recommend staying overnight in one of our huts or campsite.

Q: Can I be guided?

A: This is a possible option, please contact us for more information.

Q: Is it dangerous sharing hikers and riders along the trail?

A: No, shared use trails are becoming more common and we have designed the loop trail with this in mind. The design of the loop trail is very open, however there are corners at times that have less visibility. It is important that riders either use a bell or call out to hikers if approaching others. We suggest that hikers move safely to the side to allow the rider/s to pass.

Q: Where does the trail start?

A: The trail starts and finishes at the Historic Ski Hut located on the Nevis Road. Drive south of Queenstown on Highway 6 and after 5-miles the Nevis Road is clearly signposted.

Q: What is the condition of the Nevis Road like and is my vehicle safe?

A: The Nevis Road climbs 2300 ft on a gravel road up and over the Slate Range. While it is a Council maintained road the steepness, drop-offs and danger posed by cold conditions can be difficult for two wheel drive vehicles at certain times of the year.

Q: What equipment do I bring?

A: At Welcome Rock the loop track is between 2600 and 3600 ft above sea level. As a result we can get some very hot days in summer and cooler days at any time of the year. We recommend visitors bring clothing for all weather conditions, including raincoats (for rain and wind) as an outer layer as well as a change of clothing even on day visits. We also suggest bringing a warm hat, sun protection and swimming gear. 

If hiking a good pair of shoes or hiking boots is required. We recommend taking a cellular phone, however there is limited coverage – see FAQ on cellular phone coverage. Please provide substantial food for lunch, dinner and breakfast. If you choose to have an overnight stay you will need to bring your own sleeping bag.  If biking please bring a spare tube, repair kit and bike pump - it is a long way to walk your bike if you get a puncture along the trail and cannot repair it.

Q: How many people can be on the Roaring Lion Trail on one given day?

A: A maximum of 50 people per day. Book early!

Q: Where can I get food for our trip?

A: We recommend that you purchase all the food you need for your visit prior to reaching the property such as in Queenstown/Invercargill/Te Anau. Nearby there are limited options for obtaining food. At Kingston 20 minutes north there is a corner shop with a small range of basic food products, there is a food truck (Trailer 66) in Garston located on the State Highway. Here you can purchase great coffee and food to take away.

The team at New Zealand Vacations are very familiar with this part of the South Island, so if you have any questions, just email us at [email protected] or call us on 888-277-2293 (PDT).

We can incorporate this wonderful experience into any South Island itinerary and you'll be glad that you did!


Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Aug 17, 2018